Among the arcana of tone, few things inspire as much devotion – even obsession – as echo. The Holy Grail is often considered the simple-but-lovely slapback heard on early Sun Records crafted by Sam Phillips. But delay, of course, can get far more far out.
T-Rex’s Replicator bridges the gaps between tape’s unique tone and its complexity, price and availability, reliability and durability. The company’s goal was to build a tape-echo unit that nailed the sound quality of vintage units – think Echoplex or Roland Space Echo – while surpassing them in features. Basically, they sought to make tape echo usable on a daily basis.
The Replicator is, simply put, one gorgeous stompbox. Built in Denmark, it reflects that hallowed Scandinavian engineering and design.
The pedal is based on the replaceable tape cartridge that runs through two playback heads – one for short, 125- to 600-millisecond delays, the other for long, 250- to 1,200-millisecond repeats. Or, use both to compound and amplify the effect.
Controls include master Volume, Delay Time, Saturation, and Feedback, with two expression-pedal inputs to give your foot the say over time and feedback.
Original tape-echo units usually had some unpredictable variation in their output: The Replicator is much more controlled, yet offers that variability via its controls. The box includes a Chorus mode that enhances the inherent modulation of tape echo, giving that glorious pitch waver in the repeats; this too can be turned down or up via a dial. Added to the analog features are a digital tap tempo to regulate tap speed to your command.
The Saturation control is a unique and especially cool feature, enhancing the Replicator’s responsiveness to the player’s attack, almost overdriving the sound as the player picks harder. It’s key to the box’s very organic sound.
And, yes, you can thankfully make the echo go freaky. Dial in Pink Floyd-esque sound sculptures or even make it self-oscillate out of this known universe. It’s ready and willing.
The Replicator can be used like an everyday analog or digital stompbox, kept running full-time through practices and gigs. In our tests, the unit never faltered – it just faithfully churned out sweet-sounding echo.
The Replicator ain’t cheap, but it’s got the tone. And it’s sturdy and steadfast – all making it ultimately inexpensive when compared with the efforts involved in keeping an Echoplex among the living.
This article originally appeared in VG January 2018 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.